amNewYork celebrates 15 years of news, transit, arts and entertainment

amNewYork front pages (from left) from April 26, 2016; Oct. 10, 2012; and June 8, 2011.
amNewYork front pages (from left) from April 26, 2016; Oct. 10, 2012; and June 8, 2011. Photo Credit: NYPD

For 15 years, amNewYork has been a part of the New York City morning routine.

City residents and commuters pick up the free tabloid newspaper or check the website for a lively read featuring the big news of the day, hot new food trends, in-depth New York stories and tips for the best arts and cultural offerings in the city that never sleeps.

“It’s been a great 15 years and our talented amNewYork team is honored to be a daily part of the city’s dynamic landscape,” said Debby Krenek, publisher of Newsday Media Group, which owns amNewYork.

Local news has always been the heart of amNewYork, making it more important than ever as other media outlets have disappeared or scaled back coverage.

“What I enjoyed about running amNewYork was the opportunity to bring a smile to a tired commuter’s face with a clever cover or a fun ‘Only In New York’ story. It’s something only amNewYork can bring to New Yorkers,” said Robert Shields, former editor-in-chief, veteran of the city’s tabloid wars and current associate managing editor at Newsday.

When amNewYork first hit the streets in 2003, it was designed to offer readers something different.

“The paper was colorful, we had fun headlines and it had a little bit of everything you needed to know to get you through the day,” said Pete Catapano, who started as a news editor and  rose to editor-in-chief during his 12-year tenure.

Catapano said in the early days, amNewYork staffers also felt like they were providing a service to try and reach people between the ages of 18 and 35 who did not seem to be reading traditional newspapers.

“It’s still incredible when I think about what we did those first couple of years,” Catapano said. “We really built something from nothing.”

Over time, amNewYork developed its own voice and a strong presence in the competitive media market with a heavy focus on transit issues and the rapidly changing city landscape.

While crime plummeted and investment boomed, city icons, restaurants and mom-and-pop shops were being replaced with shiny towers and chain stores.

Gentrification was forcing people from their neighborhoods.

Former managing editor Rolando Pujol said amNewYork took an interest in this issue by highlighting places that needed to be preserved and through a special report titled “Endangered NYC.”

 “We developed a reputation for covering this,” said Pujol, who is now director of digital and social strategy at WPIX-TV. “We focused on preservation, development and speaking for the little guy.”

That included a laser focus on transit issues, both daily problems and long range issues.

“We live and work in the city we cover. I’ve reached out to folks in the office many, many times with information about a snarled commute I’ve been a part of,” amNY.com editor-in-chief Polly Higgins said. “That adds an important layer to our mission to provide real-time, web-first content.”

While the city’s overburdened, much-maligned transit system is perhaps the most important story to amNewYork readers, the paper’s comprehensive coverage has included examinations of the ferry expansions, bike-sharing programs, sluggish bus routes and the need to make the roads safer for drivers and pedestrians.

“Day in and day out, for 15 years, amNewYork has produced the sort of intelligent and meaningful local journalism that’s an all-too-rare commodity today,” said amNewYork editor-in-chief Robert Levin. “We take this mission seriously and we are committed to continuing to pursue it. We want to thank our readers for coming along for the ride with us."